BEIRUT: Lebanese media watchdog SKeyes reported Thursday that one journalist has been killed every 12 days over the last year in the Levant region.
Since last World Press Freedom Day, 29 journalists have been killed in Syria and one in Lebanon, Al-Jadeed’s cameraman Ali Shaaban, who died after being shot at from the Syrian side of the border near Wadi Khaled on April 9.
A number of the victims listed by SKeyes were acting as citizen journalists, or activists conveying material to news outlets.
SKeyes used the occasion of World Press Freedom Day to highlight the dangers faced by journalists in the region, which has become a much more dangerous terrain since the beginning of the uprising against the Syrian government in March 2011.
“Two bullets, together, kill journalists in the Arab Levant: that of the murderer, and that of impunity,” the SKeyes statement said.
The center called for those responsible for the deaths of the journalists to be brought to justice, adding: “The work of press freedom organizations is only a first step toward ending impunity. Only a genuine international commitment to punishing the murderers, regardless of any alliance and political considerations, will carry out this mission.”
Separately, the European Union’s office in Beirut distributed a statement by Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign minister, who said “censorship and harassment of editors, writers, journalists or bloggers are unacceptable, as are the use of violence and state-induced arrests inflicted upon them.”
Ashton said the EU commends the “courageous work of journalists who, in often highly precarious conditions, continue to provide independent information,” adding that freedom of expression “extends to the Internet and other media, and the EU is firmly opposed to any unjustified, disproportional restrictions of access to or use of these media.”